Did Eller Really Play Tougher Minutes Than Desharnais?
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08-20-2012, 12:14 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Originally Posted by
Well, only players on Montreal's ever-changing 4th line (from Nokes, Staubitz, Engqvist, Darche, Dumont, Palushaj, Blunden, Geoffrion) ranked lower in Corsi Relative Quality of Competition (well, Gomez and Leblanc are right there, too), so yeah... they kinda were; especially when you factor in the Corsi Relative quality of teammates (linemates) and see what Eller was working with while facing relatively better players. Also notice on the chart from the6thsens.com showing Eller well into the "shutdown" quadrant, while the Desharnais line borders between "2-way" and "sheltered".
The thing about shot differential stats like Corsi is that they tend to underrate players that play tough defensive minutes. The shutdown forwards of the league play against the other team's best nightly, so their Corsi ratings tend to be low. Consequently, players who are subject to heavy line-matching, such as Desharnais, tend to have lower QoC numbers, even though they were oftentimes matched up against the opposition's best defensive players.
I linked an article earlier from nhlnumbers.com, which advances the theory that we should measure quality of competition by looking at a player's opposition's average ice time. If a forward is getting 18 minutes of ice time a game, he's likely to be one of the best on his team. The article (linked below too) shows graphs for the each team, showing a player's average opposing defenseman ice time and forward ice time. IMO, it gives a really good picture of a player's usage and how other teams tend to match up against him. For example, Ovechkin's opposing defensemen tended to play a lot of minutes, but not the forwards. This means that he faced the league's best defensemen last year, but not it's top scoring threats. On the other hand, a guy like Brandon Sutter played some pretty weak competition in terms of opposing defensemen, but faced the other team's best forwards night in night out. A guy like Datsyuk faced both the best defensemen and the best forwards, which makes a lot of sense since he's widely perceived as one of the best two-way forwards in the NHL.
My point isn't that Corsi isn't a good measure of QoC. It does show how well a player's opponents drive possession. However, it tends to be seen as a be-all end-all of hockey stats in a lot of circles, and doesn't get taken in proper context enough, IMO.
Edit: Bringing it back to the Desharnais-Eller debate, we can look at these TOI as a measure of competition stats and see that while the forwards that both players faced tended to have about the same nightly ice time, Desharnais faced defensemen who received more minutes. Obviously a player getting a lot of minutes doesn't mean he's good, but over a large sample size, I think we can trust NHL coaches with putting their better players on the ice against the toughest competition more often than not. Desharnais' opponents may not have driven possession all year, but that wasn't because they weren't good, it's because they were trusted to play against the toughest opponents on a nightly basis.
Last edited by tonynyy: 08-20-2012 at
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